Beauty & the Brush: The workplace

There is no setting where a first impression matters more than at the workplace.

Maria Saadat August 19, 2010

When meeting someone new, there are but a few seconds to make a great first impression. The way you initially physically present yourself sets the tone for how others will perceive you in the long run. Women are generally attentive to their image at parties and events. But, there is no setting where a first impression matters more than at the workplace.

You may be inclined to set your best foot forward by painting on your face as though you’re jetting off to the latest restaurant opening, but work makeup should be professional and daytime appropriate. Sleek and confident, yet low maintenance is the key. Colleagues and clientele should be focused on your abilities, not have their attention diverted by your appearance.

A pristine face begins with a thoroughly cleansed complexion. If you’re a seasoned employee you may feel comfortable enough to roll into work with remnants of last night’s mascara on your lashes. Try not to be so negligent, as poorly cared-for skin will be amplified under the harsh office tube lights. Don’t forget to follow up cleansed skin with a good moisturiser. Clients won’t be impressed with a worn out, parched face, so plump up your skin with your favourite lotion.

If you use foundation, apply with a light hand. Never, and we mean never, smear on the same amount that you would to a party. You spend about half the day in the office, and trust us, your makeup will cake by the end of it. Plus, the glare from your computer will accentuate how many layers you have on. Try a tinted moisturiser in place of your foundation. Or, simply mix your regular product with a little lotion to thin it out. Cover up any blemishes with a concealer of the same colour.

With your base in place, you can now zero in on your eyes, the feature most noticed by colleagues and clients you communicate with. We’re betting you aren’t a Lollywood star, so you’ll most likely want your co-workers to concentrate on your ideas, not the amount of eye makeup you’ve splattered on. Go ahead and line your peepers, but not with the glaring black kajal you wore last night to your cousin’s Mehndi. Opt instead for a brown liner that draws less attention. Purchase waterproof kohl and blend it out to avoid garish lines.

A fan of eye shadow? Ignore the temptation of frosty and shimmery shadows and stick with matte consistencies. Match your office attire with earthy or nude shadow tones rather than funky shades - your boss will lose interest in your pitch faster than you can say “aqua.” Finish off your eyes with a waterproof mascara to avoid under eye smudges. One natural looking coat should be enough for the day.

When it comes to lips, unless you’re working in the fashion industry, we recommend steering clear of super bright pigments and loud reds. Choose a colour in the nude category that is one or two shades darker than your natural lips, or a tint that is relatively sheer. Creamy consistencies last longer throughout the day than high-shine glosses.

For the final touch, sweep a warm peach shade onto your cheekbones. This colour compliments all skin tones and brightens the face in an understated manner. Keep your favourite highlighter in your drawer for the evening time. There is nothing more distracting than a colleague whose cheeks gleam every time the overhead lights hit them at an angle.

The overall look should be simple - polished but not overdone. Remember ladies, less is more!

Maria Saadat is author of the popular desi beauty site Lipstick Masala.


Do you have a question about make-up? Can’t figure out a hairstyle for an upcoming wedding? Do your attempts at smoky eye make-up leave you looking like a raccoon? Have no fear! E-mail your questions and issues to [email protected] and Maria Saadat will respond to them in an upcoming column.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2010.


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